It’s been a long stay in the house for the 16 fighters who were lucky enough to make it this far.  But now it’s down to the final four fighters and one last night of exhibition fights on FX’s first season hosting The Ultimate Fighter reality series.  The fights have aired live this season, for the first time in the reality franchise’s history, and that continues in the 12th episode of the season, as both semi-final contests take place within the one hour allotment.  The two winners will have just one week to prepare for the season’s finale, which takes place June 1 at The Pearl at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.

Things kick off at Red Rock Harley-Davidson, where UFC President Dana White reveals that the coach and winner of this season of The Ultimate Fighter will win Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Sons of Anarchy star Theo Rossi joins the four semi-finalists and the two coaches for a Harley-Davidson boot camp.

Then it’s back to the house for some pranks before everyone heads home, but Daron Cruickshank doesn’t appreciate Chris Tickle’s antics and lands a few strikes on Tickle. It might be time for some punishment handed out by Dana White.

Instead, White praises the cast for their behavior and announces that everyone is fighting at the finale.  Well, everyone except Mike Rio, who broke a rib, and Andy Ogle, who is on a medical suspension for a concussion.

“When Dana told me I couldn’t fight, I was devastated,” explained Ogle.  White suggested that he wouldn’t let Ogle fight for twice the length of time as suggested by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, leaving Ogle benched for 90 days. “I just wanted to get up, and I wanted to hit something.  I wanted to run away, but there’s nowhere to go.”

After the meeting broke up, Ogle chased down the UFC President and asked for a spot on the UFC’s card set for later this year in Nottingham, England.  White responded that “it’s done. We’ll make it happen.”

“Dana’s brought me back to life,” Ogle declared.  “I’ll get that fight.  And I get to sit, watch my teammates go out there and go for it.  It’s going to be unreal.”

From there, it’s on to Team Cruz’s training session. Vick is working on a game plan to keep the fight on the feet and knock out Chiesa.  Cruz voices concern that Chiesa might take Vick down and that Vick will be a sitting duck.

“(Vick) is great standing,” Dominick Cruz explained to an assistant coach.  “Once he’s down it’s over.  It’s terrible.  We can’t get down.”

Meanwhile, Team Faber’s Michael Chiesa wants to keep Vick guessing and use his wrestling to exploit Vick.  Faber is concerned after Chiesa has a tough time in his sparring session. Chiesa breaks down in tears as he gets emotional about his bad day.

“Chiesa has had some wavering emotions, and has been up and down in practice.  But if he shows up at 100-percent, he’s going to win this fight,” Urijah Faber confidently stated.

James Vick vs. Michael Chiesa

After the customary feeling out process, Chiesa looked for a takedown off of a clinch and landed some knees to the body.  Chiesa attempted a trip takedown, but Vick reversed it.  The two quickly returned to their feet, exchanging punches.  Vick chased Chiesa around the cage, landing the cleaner punches, including some body shots, and throwing in a few kicks for good measure. Vick landed a combination that sent Chiesa to the ground.  Vick gained top position and locked in a guillotine choke, which appeared to have Chiesa on the verge of tapping before the bell brought an end to the opening frame.

The two fighters decided to stand in the opening moments of the second stanza.  Chiesa lunged forward with punches, while Vick looked more confident.  However, Vick started having trouble pulling the trigger, allowing Chiesa to get more aggressive and nail a takedown. Chiesa moved quickly from side control to full mount.  Once there, Cruz’s forecast of Vick as a sitting duck proved to be spot on, as Chiesa rained down blow after blow with Vick covering up but showing no effort to escape the bad position. Referee Herb Dean had no choice but to step in and save Vick, giving Chiesa the second-round TKO stoppage victory.

Official Result: Michael Chiesa def. James Vick by KO (punches). Round 2, 1:55.

“It ain’t the prettiest,” Chiesa admitted. “I’ll always find a way to rally back and pull it off.”

“It was disappointing,” said Vick in defeat. “I messed up…It was humiliating.”

We get a glimpse inside Al Iaquinta’s training sessions.

“Al was the first pick for me three months ago, and he’s really lived up to it,” Faber said. “He’s been a guy that never complains, always overachieves.  He’s as tough as they get, and he’s fighting another guy who’s super tough in Pichel.”

“I’m expecting on for the history books,” Faber added. “It’s going to be a wild fight.”

Meanwhile, Team Cruz’s Pichel is training hard as well.

Cruz believes that if Pichel can stuff the takedowns of Iaquinta, he can outwork the Team Faber fighter.

“Alright, Al, it’s going to be war time, buddy,” Pichel said. “I hope you got your metal chin on, because I’m going to break that thing.”

[alert type=white ]Al Iaquinta vs. Vinc Pichel[/alert]

Iaquinta shot for a takedown 30 seconds into the fight and remained persistent, eventually taking Pichel’s back and dragging him to the mat. Iaquinta tried to get both hooks in, but failed, and the two returned to their feet. The two exchanged kicks and punches for the several minutes, until Iaquinta scored another takedown with just a minute remaining in the round.  Iaquinta tried for a choke with just 20 seconds remaining, but the attempt allowed Pichel the opportunity to get back to his feet, where he finished the round chasing Iaquinta with strikes that failed to find their mark.

Pichel started the second round with more aggression.  He landed more significant strikes in the opening minutes of the frame, and knocked Iaquinta’s mouthpiece out.  The two engaged in a striking battle, landing kicks and punches for the next several minutes as signs of blood appeared on both fighter’s faces.  With a minute left, Iaquinta shot for a single-leg takedown, Pichel stuffed it and landed a knee to the body as they separate. The two continued to exchange until the final bell.

[divider]Official Result: Al Iaquinta def. Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision

“He’s tough,” Iaquinta said of Pichel.  “I just had to stick and move, and that’s what I did.”

“I was kind of hoping there’d be a third (round),” Pichel confessed.  “That second round looked kind of close; they probably gave it to him because of the leg kicks.”

The tournament’s final is now set, as Team Faber sweeps the semi-finals and sends Al Iaquinta and Michael Chiesa to the finale to determine this season’s Ultimate Fighter.

Dana White’s final address to the fighters concluded with a warning for the fighters to not go crazy in their celebration, as they are all fighting next week at the finale.  Iaquinta and Chiesa faced off in a staredown and the show ended on a promo for the finale event and Faber’s UFC 148 fight with Renan Barao.

Photo: Michael Chiesa (L) battles James Vick in The Ultimate Fighter semi-finals (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)